By Selen Temizer
BRUSSELS (AA) - European countries have accelerated vaccination of children aged 5-11 amid surging cases of the coronavirus.
On Nov. 25, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for the same age group. However, these children will be given a lower dose than their peers aged 12 years or above.
There are approximately 27 million children of the 5-11 age group in the EU.
In Austria, several provinces, including the capital Vienna, started to vaccinate children of the same age group even before the EMA's approval.
On Nov. 15, 200 children were administered a dose in Vienna and then the practice spreads across the country.
Vaccination of children aged 5-11 in Hungary started on Dec. 14.
While the vaccination continues in 77 hospitals across the country, it has been announced that so far 38,000 children have been vaccinated.
In Greece, vaccination of the children aged 11-15 began on Dec. 15. More than 30,000 appointments for vaccination have been made so far.
Greece has obtained 60,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children. After the new vaccine purchase in January 2022, more children will be able to make appointments.
Vaccines will be administered in children's hospitals and certain vaccination centers.
Spain began vaccinating children aged 5-11 on Dec. 15.
The Health Ministry announced that 1.3 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine have so far been received for children and 3 million more doses will be delivered next month.
The ministry announced plans to provide the first dose of the vaccine to all children aged 5-11 by the end of January. The interval between the first and second dose in this age range was reported to be eight weeks.
As of Dec. 15, France started vaccinating children of the same age group, who are considered to be "at risk." This corresponds to about 360,000 children.
Vaccination of all children in the 5-11 age group is planned to be started after Dec. 20.
Germany's Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) recommended Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine for the same age group on Dec. 9.
After evaluating all the data available so far, STIKO decided to recommend the COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5-11 years with various diseases.
On Dec. 10, Switzerland’s health regulator Swissmedic approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children aged 5-11.
However, vaccination is expected to begin in the first weeks of January 2022.
The Belgian government is waiting for the recommendations of the country's health council before officially launching a vaccination campaign for children.
After Thursday’s meeting in this regard, authorities are expected to announce its decision on Dec. 20.
It is estimated that the UK will also evaluate the issue and make a decision before the Christmas holidays.
On Nov. 3, the US started vaccinating children in the same age group and more than 5 million children have been vaccinated so far.
Since December 2019, the pandemic has claimed over 5.33 million lives in at least 192 countries and regions, with more than 273 million cases reported worldwide, according to the US’ Johns Hopkins University.